A rematch between unbeaten IBF cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs) and WBA champion Denis Lebedev (29-3, 22 KOs) is possible for the summer. Gassiev, 23, beat Lebedev by a 12 round split decision on December 3 last year at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia. The fight was close enough for boxing fans to want to see a rematch.
Lebedev, 37, felt he had done enough to deserve the victory. However, he was knocked down by Gassiev with a body shot in the 5th round, and he was troubled by the huge pressure that the younger fighter put on him throughout the second half of the fight. The judges scored the fight 116-112, 116-111 for Gassiev, and 114-113 for Lebedev. There wasn’t any boos afterwards from the boxing fans at ringside about the decision, so you have to assume that they were fine with it.
Gassiev wants to fight unification matches. However, he’s not likely to fight WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk anytime soon. The Lebedev fight is a possibility though, as it’s a doable fight against the fellow Russian fighter.
“Gassiev and Lebedev can fight in the summer,” said a source close to Team Gassiev via Izvestia newspaper. “Both IBF and WBA titles will be on the line this time. Gassiev wants unification fights, but only Usyk and Lebedev are available for now. Usyk fight is highly unlikely. And as for rematch against Lebedev, everybody is interested in it,” said the source.
For some reason, Lebedev’s World Boxing Association cruiserweight title wasn’t up for grabs for the Gassiev fight last December, just his IBF title. Normally when there’s a unification fight between champions, it involves all their titles, not just some of them. By not putting his WBA title on the line for the fight, Lebedev was able to keep one of his titles despite losing the fight.
For the Gassiev-Lebedev rematch in the summer, Lebedev’s WBA title will be available for the two fighters to fight over, as well as Gassiev’s International Boxing Federation belt. The results of that fight will have a unified champion. There will still be the WBC belt held by Tony Bellew and WBO strap held by Usyk available.
Lebedev focused on throwing a massive amount of punches in the Gassiev fight. This enabled him to win many of the rounds despite the fact that Gassiev was landing the harder blows. Gassiev wasn’t busy enough much of the time. He was waiting too long before he would let his hands go.